Analects: With Selections from Traditional Commentaries (Hackett Classics)
Confucius, Edward Slingerland
This edition goes beyond others that largely leave readers to their own devices in understanding this cryptic work, by providing an entrée into the text that parallels the traditional Chinese way of approaching it: alongside Slingerland's exquisite rendering of the work are his translations of a selection of classic Chinese commentaries that shed light on difficult passages, provide historical and cultural context, and invite the reader to ponder a range of interpretations. The ideal student edition, this volume also includes a general introduction, notes, multiple appendices--including a glossary of technical terms, references to modern Western scholarship that point the way for further study, and an annotated bibliography.
Confucius is pleased with his humility and realistic assessment of himself. Or, as Fan Ning suggests, “Confucius is pleased with the depth of his commitment to the Way, displayed by the fact that he is not eager to obtain glory or official salary.” Other commentators understand the “cannot be trusted” as referring to the rulers of the time; Huang Kan reports such an alternate interpretation: “What Qidaio Kai means is that the ruler of the time were not trustworthy, and he therefore could not take
loftiest matters with those who are above average, but not with those who are below average.” Although some commentators understand “average” to refer to overall moral character, in an alternate version of this passage in the Guliang Commentary it explicitly refers to level of understanding, and this is the most likely meaning here. Most commentators see this as a rationale for Confucius’ practice of “skillful means”: altering his teachings to accord with the level of understanding of his
ritual was an elaborate affair— consisting of many layers and involving intricate stitching—and Confucius’ contemporaries had begun replacing it with a simpler silk version. Confucius apparently feels that this does not interfere with its basic function. When approaching a ruler or other superior sitting on a raised dais, ritual dictates bowing before ascending the stairs, but Confucius’ contemporaries had taken to ascending the stairs and only bowing when directly before their ruler. This is a
aggressive, whereas Confucius taught the more gentle and refined “Southern style,” exemplified by the court music of the sage-king Shun. His initial complaint was probably intended as a goad, aimed at getting Zilu to take up a more appropriate style of music. As Huang Kan explains, Zilu was hard and unyielding by nature, and in his zither playing also displayed a vigorous, aggressive style. Confucius, knowing that he was not destined to live out the full span of his years, repeatedly tried to
accountability, but it is important not to lose sight of how distinct from modern liberal ideals the early Confucian conception actually was. 12.20 Zizhang inquired, “What must a scholar-official be like before he can be considered accomplished (da )?” The Master replied, “What do you mean by ‘accomplished’?” “Sure to be renowned (wen ), whether serving the state or a noble family.” Duke Xiang, Year 21 (551 b.c.e.); Legge 1991d: 490. Chapter 3.22; Hightower 1952: 100–101; see also 3.24: 105–106.